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Maasai leaders fear community may not get justice following Uhuru-Raila deal.

By Steve Mkawale | Published Sun, August 26th 2018 at 00:00, Updated August 25th 2018 at 21:48 GMT +3
Former TJRC chairman Bethuel Kiplagat hands over the final report to President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2014. [File, Standard]

Communities disadvantaged by historical injustices are worried that the Raila-Uhuru handshake will curtail the implementation of the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) report.

Elected leaders and professionals in Narok County have raised concerns that NASA leader Raila Odinga will not pursue the report with the same zeal as he did before the handshake.

Moitalel Kenta, the Narok North MP, says the TJRCreport should be implemented to the letter as many victims of past injustices have died while waiting for justice. Some perpetrators, he says, have died before they were held to account.

The MP says the Maasai community lost land before and after independence, a grievance which is captured in the report.

“The skewed allocation of resources that led to development in some regions as others were excluded, inequality in land distribution among other injustices should be addressed for all Kenyans to be happy,” Kenta says.

The report has been in Parliament for about four years but has never been debated or adopted. 

The late Maasai political supremo William ole Ntimama was a key proponent of the implementation of the report.

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Meitamei Dapash, a Maasai land rights activist, says the community will only feel they are part of Kenya if they are compensated for the land they lost in the white highlands before 1902.

“After the 1902 agreement between Olonana and the colonialists, we were consigned to the unproductive plains which were full of mosquitoes and tse-tse flies. Many people died of malaria and sleeping sickness,” he says.

In Nakuru County, Ogiek land rights activist Peter Cheruiyot says many Kenyans will lose if Raila does not use his position to influence the implementation of the report.

“Even though he is now working with people who are not interested in implementting the report, we still regard him as our beacon of hope. He should use his influence and close proximity to the President to fight for the rights of the marginalised,” he says.

The minority Ogiek community -- living around the Mau Forest complex have fought tirelessly for their land rights.

To them, the TJRC report was their best bet in getting justice.

Vocal advocate

Raila has been the most vocal advocate of the implementation of the report which was handed over to President Kenyatta by TJRC Chairman Bethuel Kiplagat, now deceased, in 2014.

The Opposition leader openly criticised President Uhuru’s administration for failing to implement the report, which touches on historical injustices meted out on Kenyans -- individually or as communities -- by successive governments since 1963.

Communities, personalities and survivors of those who bore the brunt of various injustices including land deprivation, displacements, torture and killings in the hands of security forces among others had banked on the former Prime Minister to help them get justice.

Now, some of the community leaders say that since the handshake in March, Raila has not mentioned the report, instead laying focus on the fight against corruption.

But the former Prime Minister says the nine-point agenda in the building bridges initiative contains issues dating back to independence.

“These are issues seen to be holding Kenyans, that divide people and make some feel that they are lesser Kenyans.

“Those are the same issues contained in the TJRCreport,” his spokesman Dennis Onyango told Sunday Standard.

National Assembly Leader of Minority John Mbadi says Raila has only changed tact in his push for reforms.

“If you look carefully at the nine items being pursued by the two leaders in the pact; ethnic antagonism, lack of a national ethos, inclusivity, devolution, divisive  elections, security and corruption are also basis of the TJRCreport. They are the same issues,” he says.

But the report is not in the agenda of a committee formed to fine tune the handshake.

Corruption, electoral reforms, constitutional review among others are top on the agenda. Jackson Saika, the national chairman of Maasai Professionals Association, says the implementation of TJRC report remains one of the biggest issue towards a just society.

Mr Saika says history will judge Raila harshly if he abandons the quest to have injustices addressed or kindly if he stands with the victims.

Apart from the thorny land issues, the infamous Wagalla Massacre in which hundreds of people were rounded up and killed by security personnel on alleged orders from the government, is one of the top most issues highlighted in the truth team’s report.


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